Top Ten Favorite Chef's Tools

12:21 PM, Apr 26, 2010   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn.--  Chef, author, and cooking instructor Rachael Perron joined us today with her must-have kitchen tools for every home cook. 

Here are the top 10 tools Rachael talked about: 

1.  Instant-read thermometer - This is probably the most important and least-used tools in kitchens.   Even the cheapest models will work, and it helps you make sure your meats, fish and poultry are cooked thoroughly and safely, it's just as important for making sure they aren't overcooked (dry, rubbery, tough)! 

2.  Flat-bottomed wooden "spoon" - Rachael recommends that all kitchens have a variety of these tools in various shapes and sizes, especially one with a flat bottom and squared-off shape.  Flat spoons are great for reaching in the corners of saucepans and scraping the bottoms of braising pans.

3.  Top-view liquid measuring cup - These models ensure accuracy, and are great to have in various sizes.

4.  Box grater - A large grater is definitely more useful than a small one.  Also look for one with non-slip silicone feet because they make the job much easier (and safer for your knuckles)!

5.  Citrus juicer - Juicers get more juice per fruit than hand-squeezing, and they help strain out seeds from the fruits. 

6. Meat pounder - Rachael said the flat side of the pounder is terrific for evening out chicken breasts, and making thin cutlets of all varieties of meat and poultry.

7.  Kitchen tongs - Tongs with basic metal tongs, and  some tongs with silicone tips are really useful when you don't want to touch raw meat or poultry.

8.  Microplane/zester - These come in multiple sizes and shapes for different items.  Some are better for cheeses, citrus, nutmeg, chocolate, etc., but a large square microplane with a medium rasp will do the trick for most foods.

9.  "Slap Chop" - These multipurpose tools are great for chopping garlic, ginger, herbs, nuts, chocolate, jalapenos, and so much more.  It's only drawback is it is a little hard to clean, but it's worth it.

10.  Parchment paper - If you use parchment paper when baking, you will no longer need to grease the baking sheet.  Not only will you have perfect cookies every single time, parchment makes clean-up much easier- saving wear and tear on your bakeware.

Rachael is hosting a "Quick Breads for Foodies" cooking class at The Chef's Gallery on April 28.  She will also be teaching "The Working Girl's Kitchen" on May 13 at The Chef's Gallery.  For more information about Rachael's cooking classes, her recipes, and cookbooks, visit her website at www.detailspcs.com.  You can also find Rachael on Facebook, just search for "Details Private Chef Services."

COCONUT BANANA BREAD WITH LIME GLAZE

INGREDIENTS:

2 C. FLOUR
¾ TSP. BAKING SODA
½ TSP. KOSHER SALT
1 C. SUGAR
¼ C. CANOLA OIL
2 EGGS, LIGHTLY BEATEN
3 RIPE BANANAS, MASHED
¼ C. PLAIN YOGURT
3 T. COCONUT RUM
½ TSP. VANILLA EXTRACT
½ C. PLUS 2 T. SHREDDED SWEETENED COCONUT
½ C. CHOPPED PECANS, OPTIONAL
2 C. CONFECTIONERS SUGAR
ZEST OF 1 LIME
¼ C. FRESH LIME JUICE, OR MORE AS NEEDED

DIRECTIONS:

1. HEAT OVEN TO 350.

2. SPRAY A 9X5 LOAF PAN WITH BAKING SPRAY AND LINE THE BOTTOM AND LONG SIDES ONLY WITH A SINGLE SHEET OF PARCHMENT PAPER; SET ASIDE.

3. WHISK TOGETHER THE FIRST THREE INGREDIENTS IN ONE BOWL, THE NEXT 7 IN ANOTHER.

4. GENTLY MIX TOGETHER THE DRY INGREDIENTS INTO THE WET USING A SILICONE SPATULA AND A GENTLE FOLDING TECHNIQUE, JUST UNTIL THE DRY INGREDIENTS ARE MOISTENED (LUMPS AND CHUNKS OF BANANA MAY REMAIN); GENTLY STIR IN ½ CUP COCONUT AND THE PECANS, IF USING.

5. SCOOP BATTER INTO PAN AND SPRINKLE WITH REMAINING COCONUT.

6. BAKE FOR 1 HOUR OR UNTIL A WOODEN SKEWER INSERTED INTO THE CENTER OF THE LOAF COMES OUT CLEAN, WITH JUST A FEW MOIST CRUMBS ATTACHED.

7. COOL LOAF IN PAN 10 MINUTES, THEN MOVE TO A WIRE RACK.

8. MIX THE LAST 3 INGREDIENTS IN A SMALL BOWL UNTIL SMOOTH USING JUST ENOUGH JUICE TO MAKE A VERY THICK GLAZE OF DRIZZLING CONSISTENCY.

9. DRIZZLE GLAZE OVER THE LOAF 1-2 TIMES WHILE IT'S WARM; DRIZZLE WITH REMAINING GLAZE TO TASTE ONCE BREAD IS COMPLETELY COOLED, 2-3 HOURS.

SERVES 10.

BLUEBERRY SCONES WITH LEMONADE ICING

INGREDIENTS:

SCONES:
2 C. FLOUR
¼ C. SUGAR
1 T. BAKING POWDER
½ TSP. KOSHER SALT
1 TSP. LEMON ZEST
5 T. UNSALTED BUTTER, CUT INTO PIECES AND CHILLED
1 C. HEAVY CREAM, PLUS EXTRA
¾ C. BLUEBERRIES, WASHED AND THOROUGHLY AIR-DRIED

GLAZE:
1 C. POWDERED SUGAR
1 T. LEMON JUICE, OR MORE AS NEEDED
½ TSP. VANILLA EXTRACT
ZEST OF 1 LEMON

DIRECTIONS:

1. HEAT OVEN TO 450 AND LINE A BAKING SHEET WITH PARCHMENT PAPER.

2. WHISK TOGETHER FIRST FIVE INGREDIENTS IN A LARGE MIXING BOWL AND ADD TO THE BOWL OF A FOOD PROCESSOR.

3. ADD BUTTER AND PULSE UNTIL THE MIXTURE RESEMBLES COARSE CORNMEAL; POUR BACK INTO THE MIXING BOWL AND STIR IN CREAM JUST UNTIL IT COMES TOGETHER.

4. POUR DOUGH ONTO A FLOURED COUNTERTOP AND KNEAD INTO A ROUGH STICKY BALL; SCATTER BERRIES OVER THE TOP AND FOLD AND KNEAD DOUGH GENTLY TO INCORPORATE THEM.

5. PRESS DOUGH INTO A 9" ROUND CAKE PAN AND UNMOLD BACK ON THE COUNTERTOP; CUT INTO 8 WEDGES.

6. PLACE WEDGES ONTO THE BAKING SHEET; USING A PASTRY BRUSH, LIGHTLY BRUSH THE TOPS WITH CREAM AND BAKE UNTIL LIGHTLY GOLDEN BROWN, 12-15 MINUTES, ROTATING PAN HALFWAY THROUGH.

7. WHILE SCONES BAKE, IN A SMALL BOWL WHISK TOGETHER THE GLAZE INGREDIENTS, ADDING ENOUGH JUICE TO MAKE A THICK GLAZE THAT IS JUST BARELY ABLE TO BE DRIZZLED.

8. TRANSFER SCONES TO A WIRE RACK AND DRIZZLE WITH HALF OF THE GLAZE; COOL 10 MINUTES AND DRIZZLE WITH REMAINING GLAZE; SERVE.

SERVES 8.

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